More than 450 EcoPassengers travelled with the Climate Express from Brussels to the UN Climate Summit COP 15 in Copenhagen.
Last 5 December, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC, and Yoshio Ishida, the Chairman of UIC, the initiator of this special train organised in the framework of the Train to Copenhagen project, together with Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme and James P. Leape, Director General of WWF hosted more than 400 high level EcoPassengers - climate change negotiators, rail business leaders, environmental activists, and journalists on board of the Climate Express taking them to COP 15 in Copenhagen.
The journey was a totally CO2-free journey, as the power drawn for the locomotive came entirely from renewable sources of energy.
One of the main messages delivered by the rail sector on this day was the necessity for COP 15 negotiators to better integrate the transport issue into the discussions in Copenhagen and to increasingly make reference to the solutions that the rail mode can offer as part of an efficient multimodal system to master the transport emissions issue. Train operators from around the world participated in the Train to Copenhagen campaign with the aim of raising awareness of transport’s influence on climate change. Railways are crucial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in developing sustainable transport systems. The message from the rail community: a global position paper entitled “Keeping Climate Change Solutions on Track: The Role of Rail”.
On the departure platform, full of participants and journalists, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), blew the whistle for the train to depart. The train was decorated with the logos of UIC participating members, and partners.
During the journey to Copenhagen via Cologne and Hamburg, the passengers took part in a wide range of activities, including high level discussions aiming to raise awareness of the transport sector’s influence on climate change. Achim Steiner, James Leape and Pr. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) took part in a panel discussion on ‘Updating Climate Science: What is at stake?’. The workshops and round-table discussions on the various aspects of sustainable mobility and how it can be addressed in a post-2012 agreement were a key opportunity for passengers on board to discuss the crucial climate talks ahead.
“Today no one questions the importance of fighting climate change. It is a global issue. We are all concerned as individuals and as business players. Emissions from transport are growing fast, and as representatives of the industry we have a special responsibility to fulfill. The rail sector as the low carbon transport mode is ready to be part of the solution,” said Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC.
“The Train to Copenhagen project is a showcase of sustainable transport solutions that will be part and parcel of a resource-efficient, low-carbon Green Economy of the 21st Century. By Sealing the Deal on an ambitious climate agreement in Copenhagen, governments will get into gear to propel the world to a low-carbon future so that societies may also finally embark on a journey to more sustainable transport,” said Steiner.
Who was on board
The journey gathered a large number of top-range people. From the rail side there were Yoshio Ishida, UIC Chairman, the heads of French, German, Belgian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese Railways, Richard Brown, or Eurostar CEO. From the environmental side there were Achim Steiner, James P. Leape, campaigners from Friends of the Earth, and various other groups, a bunch of young climate champions brought by the British Council, the green film-makers Franny Armstrong and Lizzie Gillett, Bertrand Piccard who plans to fly around the world using only solar power.
Among other personalities on board, there were: Mr Philippe Henry, Minister of Environment and Mobility, Ms Evelyne Huytebroeck, Minister of Environment, Mr Etienne Schouppe, Belgian State Secretary for Mobility, Mr Johannes Ludewig, CER Executive Director, Mr Michael Robson, EIM Secretary General, Mr Michael Clausecker, Director-General of UNIFE, Mr Hans Rat, UITP Secretary General, Mr Rudy Colle, UIRR General Director, Mr. Wang Shi, the Chairman of the Chinese Society of Ecology and Entrepreneurs and Chairman of Vanke corporation, or Mr Luo Hong, the wildlife photographer and UNEP Climate Hero.
Also on board was the Climate Expert Team, which started the symbolic train journey 3 weeks ago in Kyoto – the birthplace of the current Climate Change Protocol. The journey took them among others along the Trans-Siberian route, organised by Russian Railways (RZD), with Copenhagen as their final destination.
The train was welcomed upon arrival in Copenhagen the new Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Lykke Friis, Søren Eriksen, CEO of the Danish Railways (DSB), and Kim Carstensen, Leader of WWF International’s Global Climate Initiative.